On Thursday evening there was little activity on Pepper Lane, a quiet cul-de-sac with seven houses and a basketball hoop between driveways. The house at 42 Pepper Lane, which is still under construction, is listed at $3.59 million.

Not exactly the type of place you'd expect to find a decapitated animal. But that's what happened on Nov. 5 when a construction worker at the site found a headless rabbit.

This latest incident is the fifth in a string of dead animals that have been reported to police since Oct. 9.

"That this is going on in our town causes pause," First Selectman Robert Mallozzi said. "It's pretty scary, that's evident. I talk to the police all the time and I know the kind of time and effort they're putting in on this. The guys take it seriously."

Last Tuesday, the construction worker reported the beheaded rabbit to police. The neck had been cleanly severed and there was damage to a leg, indicating it may have been trapped or possibly hit by a car, New Canaan Police Sgt. Carol Ogrinc said.

More Information

Fact box

Police have said they believe the person involved is targeting senior girls at New Canaan High School.

"We believe there's a common thread there that at least helps us look at who (the girls) were dealing with recently, if they had any disputes with anyone, if they had any reason to be targeted like that," Ogrinc has said.

On Oct. 9, a NCHS senior found a dead bird in the back of her car. She had left school and driven to Waveny Park, and when she got out of her car, noticed the bird. The car's doors may have been left unlocked, but the windows were closed, so there is no chance the bird flew in the car. Police believe the bird was placed there. A decapitated cat and bird were found at Laurel Road residences and one decapitated bird was discovered at an Autumn Lane residence.

Each dead animal turned up at the residence or car of a different senior girl at New Canaan High School, and all three girls are friends with each other, according to police.

But last week's rabbit was discovered at an unoccupied house.

Pepper Lane resident Betsy Fusek is the mother of the only high school senior girl on the block.

"We're very upset that somebody is doing this," Fusek said. "We don't know if this is a senior joke or what. If my daughter was targeted then why was it over there and not on my property?"

She was certain about one thing, however.

"This person needs help. This person needs to be caught and needs help."

The police said the investigation is open and active.

"There's a possibility it's the same individual or individuals, but we're not ruling out a copy cat," Ogrinc said.

Dr. James Cassidy, the chairman of the University of New Haven's Criminal Justice Department, was aware of the animal beheadings in New Canaan, but said he hasn't been following the story very much.

"It's way premature to talk and say that it's indicative of someone who is a serial killer. Obviously, you need to know more about what is going on and why," he said. "I would be as concerned that is a sign of someone who may be experiencing a mental illness."

Cassidy said animal cruelty is a sign of psychopath, and it usually starts during childhood.

"Most psychopaths don't usually want to let people know that they're psychopaths," he said. "This seems to be more an advertisement in some way or a warning or a reflection of a message; there's a lot of different possibilities. It could be someone very angry who is leaving a message; a very odd message."

Police are encouraging anyone with information to call the anonymous tip line at 203-594-3544.

Staff writer Megan Spicer contributed to this report.

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @Woods_NCNews